Sometimes good things come to those who gripe. At the grand opening of the Delta B Sky Club I planned ahead and thought of the one thing I could ask the CEO of the airline that he would maybe fix. I know there is an endless list but the one thing I asked about was something that to me, as an elite Delta Medallion flyer, bugs me to no end – that is, the current state of gate upgrades.
You see, I have for years promoted the idea of what I call #TeamBoardLast – that is, being the last flyer onboard the aircraft because there are many, MANY times that someone who is checked-in to first class does not make the flight. If you wait and are NOT number one on the upgrade list you will be, even as a Silver Medallion, if all the other elites have given up and boarded. The result is YOU get that last (now) open seat.
Now what can also possibly happen, and the policy a while ago was changed to this, is that if a gate agent (GA) has enough time they may, at their discretion, come onboard the aircraft and take someone who was #1 (and so on) on the list from their coach seat and offer them the open 1st class seat. You may have seen this or even had this happen to you. But again this many times does not happen due to time. This may be about to change.
I have learned that on 4APRIL17 things will be different. I reached out to Delta to confirm my information from a source at Delta and was told by a Delta Corp rep the following:
“Delta regularly tests various programs and processes in the operation to continue elevating the customer experience. One of these tests has involved clearing upgrades 40 minutes from departure instead of 30 minutes from departure, in an effort to provide more Medallion Members with the Complimentary Upgrades they are eligible for, while still departing on time. Feedback has been overwhelmingly positive as we gradually expand the program beyond the initial test.” – Kate Modolo Delta Air Lines
Interesting. I was further told from my source that gate agents will start communicating with flight attendants regarding onboard upgrades during their initial briefing when the crew arrives at the gate, and then again before closing the door.
What this should mean is much less upgrade shenanigans and more chances for those who are worried about overhead space to board and still retain their place on the upgrade list that was in place when boarding began. We should see many more GAs and FAs pulling elites from in back and handing them the “golden ticket” if you will to a 1st class seat.
Lastly I was told by my source that this change specifically cited consistent Medallion feedback and the service failure that inconsistency in the current system causes. I hope this is more than just a test and is a permanent change and that all the Delta people follow this and not just now and then. Consistency is what is needed. Also, having been handed one of these onboard upgrades, I have to admit it is really fun to watch those around you when you do the reverse walk of shame to 1st class – it really is a sweet feeling! 😉
So does this end the practice of #TeamBoardLast? I think mostly but not always. Even with all these changes when a GA is stressed and things are crazy and the time to push is getting closer things don’t always go perfectly and it could still be the last elite standing will score that last open seat. Let’s see how well the test works before we call #TeamBoardLast dead and buried!
Next up we have possible news on changes on the way to the Fly Delta App. The same source that leaked the info about the upgrade changes also told me that very soon Delta will push an update to allow elites to in the APP “downgrade” their Comfort+ or C+ seat to a normal or C- seat.
This is such great news as many times as elites we are forced into a middle C+ seat or for whatever reason the Delta IT blocks us from a real 1st class upgrade when we are already “upgraded” to a C+ seat. What you must do in this case is call Delta reps and have then downgrade you to the seat you want. To be able to do this inside the Fly Delta App would be an amazing improvement.
However, Delta Corp reps would not confirm this change is on the way but I think we will see it soon. They must, as we saw in my list of gripes this past weekend, fight against the plucky Alaska Airlines that does not EVER upgrade an elite to a middle seat C+. If I get word from any other of my Delta contacts to confirm this change is on the way and when we may see it I will update this post.
Lastly on this topic, it does in a way show what a #FAIL C+ “upgrades” can be because if an elite would choose to downgrade why in the world would ANYONE pay to upgrade to one of these seats for money.
So what do you think of the new upgrade news. Are you pleased with these changes? Let me know in the comments below! – René